(U. S. Regulatory Map. Coalition for Responsible Home Education)
There are many reasons parents decide to homeschool their children. Safety, religion, prejudice, and finances are some. There are teachers who homeschool after they get home. Some reasons are more valid than others.
But ultimate danger is the state’s abdication of their responsibility for education outlined in the Constitution. By not monitoring, structuring or providing any means of accountability for the level of instruction given in home schooling, they are creating a vast wasteland that is divisive and destructive to our nation.
There are many aspects to how homeschooling is used in our country. Three of them are discussed in Part II. For this section, the predominant use is Greed.
Homeschooling as an Economic Weapon of the State
Few understand that the responsibility for education in our country lies with the State. Fewer still understand the State can save money by not having children go to school.
States which are not proponents of education are not fulfilling their mandate because they do not regulate or supervise homeschool quality in any way. They are only looking at the money they are saving by reducing the number of students attending public schools for which they must pay something called the “ADA”, Average Daily Attendance reimbursement.
Let’s look at the numbers. That’s harder than it sounds because of many factors:
No requirement to register as a homeschooler in some states
No monitoring of homeschool curriculum or instruction, that is, there is no documentation on whether homeschoolers are receiving a. any instruction or b. any quality of instruction.
Recently Ann Zeise has tried to provide some data on her website, http://a2zhomeschooling.com/thoughts_opinions_home_school/numbers_homeschooled_students/. But she has to add how untenable any attempt to measure it is. Unlike some, she tries to tell you how she gets her data. Still, she estimates a 2.7% growth rate for homeschoolers annually.
She explains that “these numbers are just a statistical estimate. Many things seem to influence how many home schooled children are educated at home in each US state, and a variety of influences will make the numbers a little high or a little low. (November 5, 2016)
But let’s look at what we can find and see the astounding revenues that the state gains through homeschooling, effectively throwing children under the school bus.
24 of the 50 states only require the parents to notify the state they will homeschool or do not even have to do that. I am particularly appalled by Indiana, my home state, which used to pride itself on its quality public education.
That means no monitoring, no registration, no proof of quality of instruction in an age that is increasingly complex and challenging both to understand and to be successful in.
17 states either do some attempt to see if it is appropriate or allow so many exceptions that the requirement for assessment is easily overcome. This brings us to 41 of the 50 states.
In other words, a wholesale message that says you don’t’ have to send your kids to school at all and so we don’t have to pay for any education.
Here is a snapshot of the astounding number of children who we have no idea what they are learning if anything:
2016 Estimated HomeSchoolers and Notification Policy
States that Parents Do Not Have to Notify At All of Intent to Homeschool
New Jersey 41,114
Texas 143,369 Total: 403,815
States that Require Only a Notice
New Mexico 10,137
Wyoming 2,783 Total: 353,529
States that Assess Homeschoolers but Allow to Opt Out
North Carolina 118,268
South Carolina 22,070
Washington 32,127 Total: 454,137
States that Assess Homeschoolers
North Dakota 3,265
South Dakota 4,163
West Virginia 10,405 Total: 105,685
States that Thoroughly Assess Homeschoolers
New York 84,959
Pennsylvania 21,385 Total: 137,810
Rhode Island 4,389 and Vermont 2533 not indicated
DC and Puerto Rico not included
This means that we only really know what less than 140,000 homeschoolers have learned in 2016 of 2,666,457 students (less than 1%).
Now let’s look at what this means economically for the state:
403,615 children are not monitored at all because there is no requirement for parents to register that they are in homeschooling. 357,698 are not monitored but parents have to notify the state they intend to homeschool, again with no proof of any instruction being delivered. This totals to 761,313 children with no evidence of any schooling in America in 2016. I would say it’s a fair bet that this is a low estimate. The majority of states require no proof of the educational level of the parents. Those that do, it is the minimal GED or high school diploma.
The states involve are reaping boatloads of revenues because they no longer have to pay any district the ADA – average daily attendance – to any district charged with being the arm of the state to educate its citizens. The ADA is prorated from the PPE – per pupil expenditure – which is the amount the state sets aside to pay for education.
Not content to save from abdicating responsibility, they also cut funding. In addition keep in mind that some states, like Missouri, allowed riverboats to generate revenue for education, but when the revenue came in, there merely took the monies for education that were already in the general fund and shifted it elsewhere, replacing it with riverboat monies.
Here is the rundown on the numbers of children with no proof of any level of instruction and the savings to the state:
State (NN – no notice or NO – notice only); PPE – savings (PPE x number homeschoolers) Cuts?
No States, Savings in PPE (PPE x # homeschoolers), and Additional Cuts in Education Funding
Alaska $18,416 – $67,457,808
Connecticut $17,745 – $31,018,260
Idaho $6,621 – $58,370,736 Yes
Illlnois $13,077 – $798,638,544
Indiana $9,548 – $341,312,356 Yes
Iowa $10,668 – $157,299,660
Michigan $11,110 -$510.471,170
Missouri $9,875 -$279,432,875 Yes
New Jersey $17,907 – $736,228,398 Yes
Oklahoma $7,829 – $149,10,413 Yes
Texas $8,593 – $1,231,197,009 Yes
Notice Only States:
Alabama $9,028 – $203,924,464 Yes
Arizona $7,528 – $249,101,520
Arkansas $9,616 – $137,720,352 Yes
California $9,595 – $1,769,702,009 Yes
Kentucky $9,312 – $190,551,456 Yes
Mississippi $8,263 – $123,341,801 Yes
Montana $11,017 – $50,160,401 Yes
Nevada $8,414 – $113,824,592 Yes
New Mexico $9734 – $98,673,558 Yes
Utah $6,500 – $117,955,500 Yes
Wisconsin $11,186 – $209,737,500 Yes
Wyoming $15,797 – $43,963,051
These states are not being accountable for education in order to take monies out of the taxes paid for the children’s education. Homeschooling parents do not realize that they are still paying taxes for services for their children that they don’t get. By beating the drum of slander against public education, the state is robbing children by abandoning any responsibility for their education in order to gain tax monies that they redirect.
In addition, there is a booming curriculum materials market for homeschoolers from traditional textbooks to computer instruction. Some states have even turned to online instruction from official districts. No one knows who is actually completing the lessons or taking any assessments. Of course some parents think the Bible is the only textbook needed. After all, it is good enough for the people in 1776.
Meanwhile in traditional schools students are tested to death in order to make profits for testing companies, most located in Texas, also the center for textbook publication.
Teachers likewise are facing increasingly stringent requirements to gain a certificate to teach at the same time that non teachers are giving hiring preferences through programs like Teach for America, charter schools run by for profit companies, and homeschooling.
The barn door is open for everyone but the teachers.
They continue to be the scapegoats while those with authority continue to undercut their efforts.
In Part II, we will look at the Religious Right’s political organization of homeschoolers and their parents and other purposes the homeschool movement is serving, and it’s not education.